New Horizons Sessional Report On The First Session Of The First Parliament Of The Republic
MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY,
In accordance with Article 25 of the Constitution, I send you this Message, and Report on the First Session of the First Parliament of the Republic of Ghana. The desire of the people of Ghana to reach new horizons of equality, economic sufficiency and respect among the nations of the world was consummated in the establishment of the Republic on the first of July last year
The celebrations marking our entry into new era and the culmination of our political struggle were attended by representatives of no less than 46 foreign countries. Since Republic Day, in keeping with our open door policy of peace and friends with all nations, we have been privileged to welcome five distinguished heads of state the persons of Emperor Haile Sellassie of Ethiopia, President Leopold Senghor of Senegal, President L. I. Bershney of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, President Tito of Yugoslavia and President Yameogo of Upper Volta.
We have also had the pleasure of welcoming Prince Moulay Hassan (now King Hassan II) of Morocco, and Mr. Julius Nyerere, the Chief Minister of Tanganyika.
In pursuit of the challenging ideal of African unity and closer collaboration in Africa, Ghana decided in the Conakry Declaration of December to establish a union of African states together with the Republics of Guinea and Mali. Practical methods of strengthening this union have been formulated and the first quarterly meeting of the heads of the member states was held in Accra in May.
The Casablanca Conference held in January was followed in February by a meeting in Accra of the Foreign Ministers of the Casablanca powers and later by a meeting of officials of the Casablanca powers.
These meetings have set the pace for the movement for unity and collaboration in the entire continent of Africa. They have helped Ghana to bring into focus, political and social injustices in South Africa, Southwest Africa, Angola, Portuguese East Africa, Algeria and Congo.
By far, the most important international problem which has exercised the government during the session has been the Congo crisis. During the session, the promotion of international peace, we have continued to help the efforts of the United Nations towards easing world tension. The recent Cairo conference of non-aligned powers was a step in this direction.Mr. Speaker, l wish now to turn to domestic affairs. On the 20th of February, a government White Paper setting out the details of the Volta River Project was presented to the National Assembly. The National Assembly thereupon approved the proposals for the financing of the scheme and authorized negotiations to proceed in accordance with the terms set out in the master agreement.
In subsequent negotiations, the terms and conditions of the loans, the conditions under which power would be made available to the consortium of North American aluminium companies, the lease of a site for the establishment of a smelter at Tema, and the entire fiscal arrangements under which VALCO would establish and operate as smelter at Tema have been agreed in principle and the necessary legal instruments are now being prepared.
You will recall that tenders for the main construction work for the dam, saddle dam, power house and appurtenances were opened on the l6th of February, and on the 12th of May, I announced that the contract had been awarded to an Italian consortium known as Impresit-Girola-Lodigiani and E. Rechi.
The contract for the Akosombo dam construction having been awarded, the arrangements for the loans financing and for the construction of the smelter having been agreed in principle, and the Volta River Authority having been established by an Act of Parliament, we have come to the end of the first stage in the implementation of this gigantic project. Thus has been fulfilled, the promise made to the people in the 1951 election manifesto of the Convention People’s Party. It is my hope that when completed, the Volta River Project will stand as a monument to posterity — evidence of the profound dedication of g government, and party to a better life for the people.
Steady progress has been made in the programme for the diversification our economy. Among the major decisions taken during the session was one to increased capitalization of the Ghana Aluminium Company by which the investments in the company are to be increased from £G125, 000 to £G1, 000,000.
A preliminary agreement has been reached for the establishment of a cement industry with a capital investment of £G4, 000,000.
A soap factory has been established at Tema with a capital of about £G2, 000,000.
An agreement has been signed with the Italian petroleum company AGIP - to establish a petroleum refinery at Tema at an estimated cost of £G8 million. It will be capable of producing 1.2 million metric tons of refined petroleum products a year.
The government has set up a state mining company to foster the expansion of the mining industry. The corporation has taken over five mines from private companies and the Ankobra power station has also been acquired. Since July, 1960, over 20,000 persons have been employed by employment centres which were set up under the Labour Registration Act of 1960. The demand for employment services has become so great that 20 additional employment centres are being established.
A National Apprenticeship Board has been established to undertake the effective organisation of vocational and technical training within industry. This will promote the rapid training of skilled artisans and craftsmen for the generation development of the country.
To relieve wage earners of the burden of the cost of living, the minimum wage was fixed at 6s. per day for the whole country. A general increase of 1s. per day awarded to all wage earners whose income did not exceed £G610 a year.
Cooperation activity has extended into many fields. Out of 640 registered societies, over 100 were registered during the session. The new ones included societies such as agricultural producers co-operatives, distillers’ cooperatives, livestock breeder’s and local crafts cooperatives. Expansion in cooperative activity has also been undertaken in the fishing industry and poultry farming.
During the session, the Builders Brigade has been reorganized. Two senior police officers have been seconded to the brigade as national organizer and deputy national organizer respectively. Brigade senior officers have been trained at the Military Academy and in the Police College. The brigade has made good progress in the field of agriculture. Several acres of land have been cultivated for food, tobacco and rubber. The brigade has also rendered other services such as clearing sites, building barracks and constructing sidewalks and parks.
Remarkable progress has been made in the production of economic crops other than cocoa. The quality and quantity of coffee produced in the Volta Region has improved with the establishment of processing facilities. The development of the rubber industry in the Western Region has been resumed with great vigour. The increase in tobacco growing in the Volta Region has been phenomenal.
In the interest of the farmers, it has been decided that as from the mid-crop season this year, the United Ghana Farmers Council should be the sole buying agent for the Cocoa Marketing Board, Suitable arrangements have been made to enable the farmer to sell his produce to the marketing society in his own area in order to rid himself of the middleman.
From September next year, primary and middle education will be free and compulsory. Plans are well in hand for implementing this new scheme. Improved salary scales for the teaching service were introduced in July and a new grade of principal teacher was established.
The establishment of the Ghana Young Pioneers was a milestone in the programme of youth training and in our efforts to inculcate in the youth of the country a sense of service to God and state, patriotism, honesty and human dignity.
A library to be devoted to African affairs is nearing completion. It will be I known as the Padmore Research Library, in memory of the late George Padmore. With the establishment of the Central Organisation of Sports in July, public interest in sports has stimulated throughout the country. Last year, Ghana competed in the Olympic Games for the first time. She took part in the Rome Games and achieved the honour of being the only West African country to win a medal.
Work on the central prison at Nsawam has been completed and the prison began to be used in October. Satisfactory progress has been made on extensions to existing prisons. Trade training facilities in the prisons and at the Borstal Institution have been expanded. A scheme has been started under which hospitals will be modernized. Under construction are modern operating theatres at six hospitals, seven dental clinics, nurses’ training schools and hostels in six towns and eighteen health centres.
During the session, 107 doctors, 24 of whom are specialists, have been recruited, to provide for the staffing of hospitals; 32 medical and four dental scholarships have been awarded for the training of Ghanaians overseas. Twelve Ghanaian doctors have been sent overseas to take specialist courses.
In furtherance of our policy of cooperation and collaboration with the newly independent states of Africa, the Division of Public Construction has embarked upon an ambitious programme of road construction to link Ghana with the states lying to the north, west and east of our frontiers.
Considerable progress has been made in the supply of pipe-borne water, and the provision of dams in the Northern and Volta Regions has been satisfactory.
A firm of Greek consultants has submitted a preliminary report on the planning of the Accra-Tema-Akosombo area, and with the appointment of a special development commissioner for Accra, the pace of development in Accra has already begun to quicken.
In February, the government acquired complete control of Ghana Airways by taking over from British Overseas Airways Corporation (and Associated Companies) Limited, their interest in the corporation. By the conclusion of international air service agreements, Ghana is now connected by air to all independent African states. The airline’s fleet has been improved with the addition of modem inter-continental turbo-prop and pure jet airlines from the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. Full ownership of Black Star Line was acquired by the government when the shares held by the Zim Israeli Navigation Company were bought over. Three of the eight ships under construction in Holland have been launched and the first of them, the Pra River, recently arrived in Ghana on her maiden voyage.
Work on the construction of Tema harbour has continued satisfactorily. A restricted operation of the harbour commenced in July.
In the field of international trade, we have maintained our adherence to the general agreement on tariffs and trade and the principles of multilateral trade and most-favoured-nation treatment. However, in line with our policy on non-alignment and also in order to diversify both our sources of supply and our export markets, we have concluded general trade agreement on a most-favoured-nation basis with Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union.
We have been in close contact with Guinea, Mali, the Niger, Upper Volta and Dahomey in an effort to achieve an economic union in West Africa. During the session, a salutary effect on trade was caused by the transfer of the Cocoa Marketing Company from London to Accra, the sale of all diamonds won in Ghana through the Accra Diamond Market and setting up of the Timber Marketing Board.
Firm action by the government against organised gangs of criminals, whose activities might have threatened the security of the state has resulted in a marked reduction in the incidence of crimes of violence. In all other respects, the internal security of the state has been maintained.
Africanisation in the army has proceeded steadily. During the session, fifty-four Ghanaians were commissioned into the armed services.
A contingent has been maintained in the Congo and it has earned high praise for its general efficiency and the valuable service given under the United Nations Command.
The survey and re-planning of a naval base at Sekondi was put in hand early in 1961.
An operational flying station has been constructed for the Air Force at Takoradi.
A publicity secretariat has been established under my personal supervision. The external broadcasting installation at Tema has been completed. Through it, the "Voice of Africa" will be heard throughout the world.
The subscription fee for radio rediffusion has been reduced from 7s. 6d to 5s. a month.
Plans are under examination for the assembly in Ghana of battery radio receiving sets.
The Ghana Film Unit has become a film corporation, and arrangements have been made to turn the Ghana News Agency into the All-African News Agency.
In order to enable local government bodies to play a more effective part in the development programme of the central government, plans have been completed for the establishment of larger councils, viable and self-sufficient in all respects.
The government has decided to establish two universities the University of Accra and the University of Science and Technology at Kumasi. A university college is also to be established at Cape Coast. Interim councils for the universities have been appointed.
Three important research units have been established. They are the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, the Forest Products Research Unit and the Road Research Unit. Members of the National Assembly, I wish to thank you for the funds which you have voted for the public services during this session.